By Zandy Dudiak, Communications coordinator
As COVID-19 vaccines became more readily available to the general public, there was one group left behind—those persons who are homebound because of age, disabilities, or illness.
Early this year, Pittsburgh Mercy provided vaccines to 28 nurses and midwives from The Midwife Center for Birth & Women’s Health. In return, the Midwife Center colleagues have volunteered at Pittsburgh Mercy’s vaccination clinics.
That partnership gave birth to an opportunity to provide vaccines to the vulnerable homebound population.
“From the beginning, we were trying to get people homebound vaccines,” says Ann McCarthy, the Midwife Center’s clinical director. “We just wanted to be part of the pandemic effort. We are very mission oriented. I can’t imagine a more vulnerable population than homebound folks.”
Getting Pittsburgh Vaccinated, a group formed for people to help each other to find information on where to get a COVID-19 vaccine, provided a third link for the infrastructure of the homebound vaccination project. With Pittsburgh Mercy providing the vaccine and Getting Pittsburgh Vaccinated scheduling the appointments, the Midwife Center colleagues hit the road to vaccinate those unable to get out.
“Many of them have been trying for so long,” Ann says. “We are really grateful to Pittsburgh Mercy and all the volunteers.”
As of June 8, the Midwife Center colleagues had administered more than 100 vaccinations to 83 homebound individuals throughout Allegheny County, including 51 second doses of Moderna. For 13 individuals, the vaccinators used the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine which, unlike Moderna, requires only one shot.
Almost always, the visit is coordinated with a family member or a paid caretaker, Ann says.
One woman in her 90s called 211 and the representative directed her to call Pittsburgh Mercy to schedule a homebound appointment. A woman with multi-organ cancer, who is on hospice care, received a home vaccine because “her family really didn’t want her to die of COVID,” Ann says.
Another woman called to get a vaccine for her mother and, although she had power of attorney, her siblings would not allow their mother to receive the vaccine. All needed to consent, so the mother did not receive the vaccine.
Since the vaccines have become widely available and cases are dropping county-wide, requests are dwindling, Ann says.
“I just can’t say enough about Pittsburgh Mercy,” she adds. “They really live through their mission of taking care of the most vulnerable.”